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Miscellaneous Christian Site With Links

Miscellaneous Christian site, with links related to dealing with addictions; ten lies the world would like to beleve, and sermons by a Nazarene preacher, Phil Stout,

 

http://livingontheedge.org/christian-living/how-can-i-overcome-an-addiction

http://www.crosswalk.com/slideshows/10-lies-of-the-world-you-should-watch-out-for.html

http://www.jaxnazchurch.com/sermons/

Time Alone With God daily devotional: Matthew 7:1-5

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Matthew  7:1-5

Judging Others
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Consider: Christians often get uneasy with Jesus’ command, “Do not judge” (7:2). They fear the wrong kind of tolerance. They’re afraid that we will abandon the call to live a holy life if we don’t clearly label some acts as sinful. After all, how can we live, raise Christian children and grow in grace if we don’t judge what is right and what is wrong? So we need to understand what Jesus meant by the word “judge.”

In the original language of the New Testament, the word for “judge” here is the same word that Jesus used in John 3:17, which is usually translated “condemn”—“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” That gives us some insight into what Jesus meant when he commanded, “Do not judge.” Of course we will judge some actions to be right and some to be wrong. But Jesus is pretty clear that we are not to stand as condemners of any person.

Now, at this point, many Christians fall back on the old aphorism, “We hate the sin, but love the sinner.” I think we need to be careful with that one. While it is literally true, to most people that does not feel like a loving embrace. It still feels judgmental.

So, how are we to approach this whole issue of discerning and judging what is right and what is wrong? Jesus made it very clear. We spend more time on our own sins than on the sins of others. As Christians, we should be more concerned with how we can be more loving than how we can straighten out some other person.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (7:3-5)

When I am fully aware of my need for grace, I am empowered to give grace to others. When I realize my lack of love, I pray for help rather than focusing on your lack in some other area. This humility empowers me to love like Jesus, who did not come “into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world” (John 3:17).

Pray: Ask the Lord to help you with any planks that may be blocking your vision and your love. Praise him that he lovingly purifies us if we humbly come to him. Then ask him to help you plant the grace he’s given you in the lives of others.

Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 6

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IN SEARCH OF A BETTER TOMORROW

Mental Illness Recovery Story, Chapter 6

“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”

Robert Green Ingersoll

Great Lakes

 

As the plane headed toward Chicago, I felt both excited and fearful about the idea of training to become a machinist mate / electrical mechanical Navy worker. “Am I going to finally succeed in life, or will I find another way to screw things up again?” Like a fool, I again set myself for defeat in the school, as I put enormous pressure on my abilities to learn the material. Fearing rejection from another potential abuser, like a teeter-totter, my confidence wildly fluctuated, as I experienced the ups and downs of manic-depression as well as obsessive-compulsive behaviors, including getting bogged down in details, when studying. Believing in the lie “Self-worth equals performance plus what other people think of me” seemed to trigger my unstable emotions and behaviors, as I obsessed daily of freedom. I wrongly thought if I proved myself competent, I would be loved – not just by others, but also, myself.

 

Even though getting good grades was extremely difficult and immensely draining for me, I started off okay. Unfortunately, as the training approached the point where the majority of  students fail, I became even more intensely anxious and unconfident. “If I just tried harder and harder, I will succeed. And if I succeed, I will be great. And If I am great, I would be loved, and then I would be happy”, was my daily thought pattern. So I placed enormous pressure on my efforts to succeed, which only intensified my mental illness.

 

After a while, the fear of failure made life become real overwhelming to me as I started feel emotionally sick and weak.  One day, I got so frail and scared that I decided to approach my instructor. Petty Officer 1st class Davis, for support.  Unfortunately, before I started talking with Davis, Petty Officer 1st class Konkol reprimanded for leaning my back against the wall. Agitated and frustrated, I told Konkol I didn’t do it. Being physically weary, I unintentionally leaned against the wall as I started talking to Davis. The next thing I know, Konkol charged me with insubordination, and I was getting chewed out by him and then sent to a senior chief for discipline.

 

As I was being questioned by the senior chief officer, Konkol, who was also present, told the officer “I deliberately chose to be insubordinate and lean against the wall.” I denied it and the next thing I know, “I was charged for lying to a senior chief officer”, which I denied also. In my mind, I didn’t anything wrong.  But Konkol and senior chief did as the senior officer threatened to “send me to captain’s mast”, a serious Navy punishment.

 

Exiting the senior chief’s office, I walked the hallway in hopelessness and confusion as Konkol started berating me again. I remember him telling me “I was a piece of crap (expletive) and the type to get an entire Navy crew killed”. He also told me “he was going to do whatever it took to get me out of the military before it happens.” As he continued to chew me out for a short time, shame, pain, frustration, and mania ran wild in my mind, as I was being verbally and emotionally abused by “a new stepdad abuser”.  Listening to those damning words, I had to work hard to resist the emotional breakdown that was erupting inside of me.

.

 

After he left me alone, I immediately went to the bathroom to heavily release the negative emotions I felt. I was crying so hard, that when I looked into the mirror, I saw my face red and in tears. “Why God, why? . . . I didn’t do anything wrong!  . . . .Why do I have to go through this, all the time! . . . . Why doesn’t anyone love me?  . . . Don’t you love me, God?” Those were the main thoughts of my crying to God.

 

In anger and in frustration, I screamed out loud: “I am going to kill him”, as I felt the pains of all who rejected and abused me, as well as the incident of Kelly Cook.  Even though my mind was losing control, I had no intention to hurt anyone. Unfortunately, an officer, walking by, heard me say the words, and then next thing I know, I was being charged for “threatening to kill an officer.

 

I remember answering questions to some sort of military psychologist, and waiting for a couple of days to see what will happen to me next. They gave me a choice: “Stay in the Navy and appeal my disciplinary consequence and live an entire military career doing crappy job” or “sign a paper for me to be released out of the military with honorable discharge, and be disallowed to join any military branch my entire life.” So I chose to “get out of the Navy”.

 

Even though I was now free from the Navy, I wasn’t free from the emotional baggage it gave me. The shame, guilt, anger, and frustrations involved with again being rejected for making a mistake I didn’t mean to commit, hurt me considerably. The Navy was just another participant who didn’t want me around. This only worsened my obsessions of “don’t make a mistake”. In spite of all this, God never did let go of me.

 

I guess Konkol was right when he said “he was going to do whatever it took for me to get out of the Navy”. Imagine the destruction someone with a mental illness may have on a nuclear reactor of a submarine, etc. Back then, I was just a nineteen year old, mentally-unstable kid still unaware of his disability; in spite of the fact my discharge papers stated “other personality / psychological disorders” for reason of discharge. To me, though, it was just another cruel joke by an unsympathetic military branch.

 

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My Recovery Story

 

Prologue 1:  Climbing Life Mountains

Prologue 2: The Devil Says: “Jesus Doesn’t Care”

Prologue 3: “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Chapter 1:  “When fear is excessive, it can make a man despair”. 

Chapter 2: “Life is to be entered upon with courage.”

Chapter 3: “The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

Chapter 4:  “Courage is the fear that said its prayers.”

Chapter 5:  “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear”.

Chapter 6:  “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”

Chapter 7:  “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

Chapter 8:  “Often the test of courage is not to die but to live”.

Chapter 9:  “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.”

Chapter 10:  “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Chapter 11:  “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.

 

Chapter 12:  “In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest”.

Chapter 13:  “Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”

Chapter 14: “Goodwill & Allied Chucker”

Chapter 15:  “Camping Trip”

Chapter 16:  “Celibacy Struggles”

Chapter 17:  “Hospital Visits”

Chapter 18: “Visits With Dad”

Chapter 19: “Courage is to confront what can be imagined.”

Chapter 20: “My Projects”

Chapter 21: “Life in Recovery”

Chapter 22: “More Stories Of Mine”

Chapter 23: “Spiritual Warfare”

Chapter 24: “We Can All Be Heroes”

Chapter 25: “Closing Thoughts”

 

 

Hyperlinks

Spiritual Warfare Article

Spiritual Warfare Article

Thoughts create emotions which influence our perceptions of future thoughts. These perceptions, thoughts, and emotions influence our decisions, actions, and behaviors – which often either imprison or set us free. Thoughts don’t destroy us – it’s how we label and acts upon what we think. Thus, to be free, we must know the difference between truth and falsehoods.

For example, one summer night, driving home from a Rhett Walker Band concert, at Spring Arbor University, my mind was being bombard by “intrusive thoughts” telling me “I am no good and unloved”, triggered by my associating college students at SAU with my past experiences of being rejected at Tris-State University. As the spiritual battle between believing I was good based upon the opionons of past people to I am special creation of God, anxiety incited. Past hurts got recalled, and the emotional responses and perceptions incited. As you play the game, the devil (just like Jesus being tempted in wilderness) waited for my weakness, frailities, and vulnerabilities to get attacked, and all of a sudden, when nearing a time where it is critical for you to drive under control and car, you experience intrusive thoughts, of killing self through reckless driving.

In life, we all face troubles, fears, unworthiness, frailties, and temptations to give up. We are human and imperfect, which makes us vulnerable and weak. However, there is hope, if we can only know the difference between truth and lies:
Truth # 1: We have an enemy to face.

Especially, in the midst of our troubles, we are constantly in a spiritual battle versus the devil, “a roaring lion” who uses lies and fear in hopes of devouring people (1 Peter 5:8). To destroy us, Satan tries to create strongholds in us by exerting pressure upon our fears, frailties, sufferings, and painful memories. His deceit works to impair our decision making by influencing what perceptions we “label” of situations and of circumstances. He also likes to make potential misfortune seem more threatening and more likely to occur than in reality, hopes to arouse negative emotions to intolerable levels, lie about what threshold of suffering we can endure and that there is no escape route through the struggle, and finally, make us believe God is not in control. “If you feel so overwhelmed, engulfed, and inundated by your problems and difficulties that you want to give up, stop, and think. It may be the Enemy at work.” (Pedro Okoro, see above).

“Spiritual warfare is very real. There is a furious, fierce, and ferocious battle raging in the realm of the spirit between the forces of God and the forces of evil.”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ

Truth # 2: Satan knows our weaknesses: fear, low self-esteem, and our tendencies to sin.

In the garden of Eden, man learned to sin, which had separated every man from God, until the cross (for believers). Feelings and fears of inadequacy and shame, false perceptions that our Father in Heaven will not always love and accept us, hatred and selfishness, and life trials and sufferings have since then tyrannized man, as we are controlled by our tendencies to do evil. The devil knows all this. So he implants thoughts that incite fear, self-rejection, and low self-esteems as he tempts us to make bad, often sinful decisions. Please read the follow quotes:

“Many Christians… find themselves defeated by the most psychological weapon that Satan uses against them. This weapon has the effectiveness of a deadly missile. Its name? Low self-esteem. Satan’s greatest psychological weapon is a gut level feeling of inferiority, inadequacy, and low self-worth This feeling shackles many Christians, in spite of wonderful spiritual experiences and knowledge of God’s Word. Although they understand their position as sons and daughters of God, they are tied up in knots, bound by a terrible feeling inferiority, and chained to a deep sense of worthlessness.”
― David A. Seamands, Healing For Damaged Emotions

“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Worthlessness, self-rejection, and fear – Satan knows our weaknesses and frailties. When we sin, we feel these experiences as Satan the Accuser and Father of lies, likes to “rub salt into our wounds.” Or, he may use the rejecting and hurtful words / actions of those around us, to do the same. He may put trials in our lives to deceitfully make us “believe God doesn’t love us”, or that “God won’t deliver us through the trial”, which could also lead us to doubt God’s unconditional love of us. The point is, Satan knows we are powerless when we feel discouraged, unconfident, and separated from God. Bob Sorge, author of Glory: When Heaven Invades Earth, reinforces these points: “The nature of the enemy’s warfare in your life is to cause you to become discouraged and to cast away your confidence. Not that you would necessarily discard your salvation, but you could give up your hope of God’s deliverance. The enemy wants to numb you into a coping kind of Christianity that has given up hope of seeing God’s resurrection power.”

Satan will continue to attack our vulnerabilities until we prove to him they are no longer a weakness. Pedro Okoro said, in Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ: “The devil doesn’t really have any new schemes, ideas, or initiatives. He keeps on recycling and reusing the same temptations, adorning them in different attires.” So how we defeat the enemy?

Truth #3: Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Pedro Okoro, same book, says “To effectively combat the devil, you need to pray”. Unfortunately, he also writes, “If you do not pray, you easily become a prey.” Faith in prayer is the secret to unleashing God’s power in our times of need, as we ask the Creator of the heavens and earth in trust to help win the victory over the Enemy. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.” “ John 14:13, John 15:7, and John 16:24 also reinforce that bible truth:

“And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. “ (John 15:7)
“Until now you have asked nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24).
“As a believer, you have the authority to tell the devil what to do in the name of Jesus”
― (Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ). However, when we sin, we lose fellowship to Christ and His power source until we repent. Thus, many times, in life, we are often weak because of our sins. Thus, Satan tries to lead us away from Christ through temptations to sins, and once he does, he tries to make us doubt God’s love and willingness to help us in our times of need. Deceptions, temptations to sin, and accusations are the tricks of the devil.

Faith and prayer frees us, doubt and fear imprisons. As Pedro Okoro says, “Knowledge comes by revelation through the study of the Scriptures.” This means, in order to have faith, which requires believing in the truth of God’s scriptures, we must daily study God’s Word, so we will have the “knowledge” background to know the difference between God’s Word and Satanic lies. (For example, by studying the Bible, you can learn truths like Romans 8:38-41, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)

When facing life struggles, know the difference between Satan’s lies and Biblical Truths, as well as fact from truth. Pedro Okoro expounds on this statement:

“There is a difference between the fact and the truth. The fact is what you may be experiencing at any particular point in time in your life, the day-to-day reality of life, the struggles, the challenges, the issues and the problems that you face on a daily basis. On the other hand, the truth is what God’s Word says about the particular situation you are going through or the challenges you currently face…God expects you to confess and proclaim the truth of His Word, not the fact of your daily struggles!”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ
tags: inspirational-quotes, spiritual-warfare

”Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.” (See Ephesians 6).

“In this battle, there is no room for turning back. You have to be on the offensive. You have to keep attacking the Enemy; and on account of this, your back is left bare. You cannot afford to turn back once you have put your hand to the plow and agreed to follow Jesus! To do otherwise is to leave yourself open to the Enemy’s attack.”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world”, Jesus said in John 16:33. People need something and someone to believe in; what they need, is to see Christ in us. God has a giant-sized purpose for both you and me. “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”(Norman Vincent Peale).

Every human is faced with a personal Goliath which only the Trinity can conquer. When life giants, storms, and mountains get into our path, we must realize that, even though seemingly equipped with “five stones and a sling”, we will always have God on our side, who will never leave nor forsake us. If you let Him, He will make you into a spiritual giant that dwarfs your troubles. And the whole world will know that there “is a God in this world.”

“Spiritual giants are only willing, available and thirsty spiritual babies who paid the price for the prize, who waged a war for the victims to become victors, just like the courageous Davids that kill the big Goliaths” ( Ikechukwu Joseph, Strategic Spiritual Warfare). Are you willing to surrender your life to God’s dream for you, not matter the cost, and trust Him daily as He delivers you through one trial after another? Freedom happens when we place our lives into His hands!

“Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won where the way leads to the cross.”
― Megan McKenna, The New Stations of the Cross: The Way of the Cross According to Scripture

“In spiritual warfare, faith is the currency that releases your prayer. It is the instrument (or weapon, if you like) that activates and sets loose the answers to your prayers.”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ

“Just as you cannot stop a bird from flying over your head, in the same way you cannot stop the devil from dropping ideas into your mind. However, in the same way that you can stop a bird from building a nest on your head, you can stop the Enemy’s suggestions from wandering without restriction and taking root in your mind.”
― Pedro Okoro, Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Victory in Christ